Take dad birding today

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Pajarito Environmental Education Center will offer a free Birdscape Tour of White Rock from 1-5 p.m. today. This is a chance to visit four homes that have optimized their yards for attracting birds. This is a self-guided tour and no registration is required.
The four yards on display this year will be at the Dunns, 107 Sierra Vista Dr.; the Walkers, 305 Donna Ave.; the Foxes, 238 Rio Bravo Dr.; and the Arendts, at 608 La Bajada. A map and directions are available at PajaritoEEC.org and participants may visit the yards in any order.  
The Dunns’ property is in a very natural state. Plantings include piñon and juniper trees, native buffalo grass, sagebrush and chamisa, as well as other low-maintenance and low-water ground covers and large stands of crabapple and wisteria to provide food and cover for birds. Bird feeders, baths and hummingbird feeders are arranged so the Dunns can see the birds from their kitchen window. This home is on a place in the flyway to observe Sandhill Crane migration in spring and fall.
The Walkers call their yard, “a typical, small suburban lot,” but they have observed more than 60 species of birds there in the last two years. The backyard is landscaped with grass, a vegetable garden and a small pond with a small, but noisy waterfall. The sound of the flowing water helps to attract birds, as do the several bird feeders distributed around the yard. Trees in their yard and neighboring yards help provide cover for birds.  
The Foxes’ yard brings together the lives of its birds, plants and residents, as all are tucked together around the New Mexico old farmhouse-style portal, which serves as the main entry to this partly formal, partly natural setting. The result is treetop bird song choruses and a gathering of finches, towhees, grosbeaks, hummers, nuthatches, sparrows, wrens, orioles, kingbirds, mockingbirds, tanagers, scrub jays, ravens and the occasional rush-from-nowhere across the yard of a Cooper’s Hawk.
The Arendts’ property is on the rim of White Rock Canyon. From their yard, they can observe the birds that seem to cruise in the almost constant updrafts. During the summer, one can enjoy watching ravens, vultures, swallows and the occasional raptor. The Arendts consider themselves novice birders, but have installed many feeding and watering stations for birds that attract many varieties. They especially enjoy occasional visits from their resident roadrunner, who seems to spend much of its time along or near the canyon edge hunting for edible tidbits.
Donations will be accepted at any of the yards to help feed the birds at PEEC. Donations will help feed the birds (and squirrels, chipmunks, and the occasional coyote) that visitors watch in PEEC’s bird/butterfly garden.